Friday, December 30, 2005

Don Boyd-Rest in Peace...

Just learned this morning that Big Band era trombonist and one of the leaders of the local (to Columbia, SC) Helms-Boyd Orchestra (which played for two years plus at the Adams Mark Hotel and more recently at the Clarion Suites in Columbia, SC) died earlier this month.

Mrs. Curley and I used to dance to the Helms-Boyd Orchestra music every Thursday night for 2 years-hardly ever missing until our move to Bethune. I used to cut out from work 10 minutes early on Thursdays and rush home, calling ahead to make sure baby sitter would be there in time so we wouldn't miss a dance.

Don Boyd played the piano (he was trombonist with Harry James and Glen Gray in the forties) and Eddie Helms played trumpet. The Helms-Boyd Orchestra sported 10 members plus vocalist-Mrs. Boyd would always sing a couple songs during the night also.

I remember one day I found a 2nd hand LP (are there any other kind?) of the Harry James Band, and Don Boyd's picture was on the cover with the band. I had bought it for about 10 cents for my son's birthday as he is a trumpet man. Mrs. Curley and I brought the album to Thurday night at the Adams Mark to get Don Boyd to autograph it for our son. He gladly did so and asked if he could show it around to all his friends there that night.

I grew up listening to Big Band music. I always had envisioned my wife and I dancing to Big Band music, but the opportunities were so rare. I remember thanking Don Boyd for making this 'dream' possible for us. He was a joyful man and a great musician.

I believe he did most if not all of the arranging for the Helms-Boyd Orchestra.

Since moving to Bethune, Mrs. Curley and I haven't been out dancing. We do miss it, but do make occasional use of our own living room 'ballroom'.

I'm sure Don will be missed by all his friends.

Here is Don Boyd's obituary. (I couldn't access the local one.)

Update: Here is another story about the Helms-Boyd Orchestra.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen

It seems like a long time since my last post. I have read a few other blogs briefly this week, but really haven't been at the computer much. RequiemPress was 'half' open for business-we answered the phone most of the time and shipped orders, but did no editorial work. Instead we visited with friends, sang songs, went walking, worked on Christmas presents in the shop which weren't finished by the 25th (but that doesn't matter as Christmas is longer than a day...) and other fun things.

Christmas Eve

Besides the cleaning, cooking, wrapping etc. we also did our first rabbit mating on Christmas Eve, so if all goes as planned, we should have little rabbits by January 26th and be eating same by the end of February/early March.

The kids, from bottom to top, made the desserts for Christmas: Gingerbread men, chocolate chip cookies, magic squares, and applie pie.

In the evening we caroled outside the Bethune 'Dollar General' store. (The DG is the only game in town besides the Hardware and Feed stores. My kids think of DG as the ultimate shopping experience.) It was fun. It was different from last year. Last year a couple folks joined us for a few songs. This year there were smiles and waves, but no joiners.

Christmas Day

Christmas morning we got up, sang "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus, and then got ready for the 10:00 AM Mass at St. Catherine's. Fr. John O'Holohan was short with the homily as he had a touch of laryngitits, (I remember Fr. Lane who was pastor at the parish of my youth in Massachusetts would give us "bonuses" on Christmas and Easter-no homily).

We got home from Mass around noon and ate breakfast. (Mrs. Curley and I had mimosas during breakfast prep.) Then we opened presents for a while, but didn't open everything. After all, Christmas is a season. (See this interesting post on the topic). Then we relaxed with some tea (I had Instant Postum-Thanks Mom!) while the turkey finished cooking.

It was wonderful day. (Even the dogs got some treats: turkey skin and liver etc.)

Santas Shop

My plan (announced somewhere below) to make a couple lap desks fell through. I ran out of time and knew I wouldn't come close to completing them, so made some simpler gifts. One son got a wooden rifle. Two sons and a daughter got walking sticks. One daughter got (well-it is still getting the final touches) a decorative box with initial inlaid. I may put a music movement in it as I have some laying around from years ago. I will post a picture of this last someday-don't hold your breath. Mrs. Curley's present is in very early stages-but I still have a few days to complete it, so I still won't spill the beans.

I have some interesting and exciting announcements about RequiemPress to post either here or at my other blog, (or both) sometime around the Epiphany. So stay tuned.

I hope you all are having a joyful and peaceful Christmas! From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

On the eve of the Nativity of our Lord...

I'm sure posts will be scarce for a few days. The Curley's have much to be thankful for this year. God has been good to us in so many ways-especially in the people He has put in our path.

Our wish for all our friends is that the space in your heart be wide to accept Christ in the fullness of His love!

From Bethany on this Christmas Eve...Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 23, 2005

40 years later, Vatican II again...

I couldn't resist quoting this when I read my daily dispatch from ZENIT last night:

The crisis that arose in the Church after the Second Vatican Council wasn't due to the conciliar documents, but rather in their interpretation, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made a long analysis of the legacy left by the 1962-1965 gathering of the world's bishops, when he met today with his aides in the Roman Curia to express his Christmas greetings.

The Holy Father asked rhetorically: "What has been good and what has been insufficient or mistaken?" in the implementation of the Council. According to Benedict XVI, the reception of the Council's messages took place according to two interpretations that "confronted each other and have had disputes between them."

The first interpretation is the one the Pope called "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture" "between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Church." According to this view, what is important about the Council is not its texts but the spirit of renewal brought to the Church, the Holy Father said. This view, he observed, "has often been able to make use of the media's liking, and also of a part of modern theology."

The other interpretation is "the hermeneutics of reform," which was proposed by the Popes who opened and closed the Council, John XXIII and Paul VI, and which is bearing fruits "in a silent but ever more visible way," said Benedict XVI. According to this view, the objective of the Council and of every reform in the Church is "to transmit the doctrine purely and fully, without diminutions or distortions," conscious that "our duty not only consists in guarding this precious treasure, as though we were concerned only with antiquity, but in dedicating ourselves with a firm will and without fear to the work that our age calls for," the Pope said.

"Today we can look back with gratitude to the Second Vatican Council," he added. "If we read and receive it, guided by an appropriate hermeneutic, it can be and will be increasingly a great force for the always necessary renewal of the Church."

I realize there are many out there, (many of whom are very good friends), who disagree with the sentiments expressed by Benedict XIV above on Vatican II-that it "can be a great force for the renewal of the Church". I was one of those for some years. But for some time now-helped by books such as George Weigel's "Witness to Hope" on John Paul II and Requiem Press' own "Two Towers-the de-Christianization of American and a Plan for Renewal" by John Meehan, I have shared the view expressed yesterday by our Holy Father and his holy predessessor.

From Bethany on these final days of preparation...Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Blogging takes a back seat...

Not much free time for blogging this week. The workshop still has much work still to accomplish.

Mrs. Curley has only put in one photo appearance here at Bethune Catholic-and that was not a very clear shot from one of our camping trips. So today, in lieu of blogging further, I will present Mrs. Curley (along with yours truly and dogs Challenger and Lady) at home at Bethany....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

God is good...

We usually get our Christmas tree after December 16th. This can be a hazardous operation here in the South. There is either an overabundance of trees available during the last week of Advent (and you can get a tree without it costing an arm and a leg) or noboday has trees left, and when you finally find that last dilapitated tree on the lot, you pay through the nose.

This year, a friend in Columbia told me that trees were still in abundance-but not out here in Bethune it seemed. Even the 'cut your own tree' place was closed. We had meant to get our tree on the 17th, but other events prevented it.

Monday, as I settled down to work, I took a few moments and started making some phone calls. Grocery stores and places like Lowes are the places which are most likely to have overbought. I struck out on the first few calls. But then I called the Food Lion in Bishopville (~20 miles from here). "Sure we got trees" the lady said. "In fact we overbought so we're giving them away today for free!"

I couldn't believe it. We rounded up the kids and took off for Bishopville in record time and came home with a great tree.

God is good.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 19, 2005


Just received a few photos from my in-law's wonderful visit here in October. So stay tuned, a few may be showing up.
The photo here is especially enjoyable. It shows the tree from this post in the act of coming down. (Great shot Nanny!)

(Note, if you look closely you can see our rabbit cages on the outside of the feed house in the background).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I will not keep you in 'limbo' any longer...

I am no theologian-but that won't prevent me from making my own observations on the recent discussions (here and here for example) which have appeared ever since the report that the International Theological Commission (ITC) will publish a document that is reported to send the concept of Limbo to the dustpin (see for example the story carried by ZENIT on 2 December '05).

What is Limbo?

Limbo is a theological hypothesis developed many years ago to solve or to help us understand better a mystery-the mystery of how to reconcile the attributes of God: He being both all-merciful and all-just. This mystery is especially hard to understand in light of the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of Baptism for salvation when applied to infants who die un-Baptized or who are miscarried or who were the victims of abortion.

In practical terms, of course, Limbo was that place where infants who died un-Baptized went: they couldn't enter Heaven because of Original Sin but didn't deserve Hell by their own sins. So Limbo was a place of natural contentment but without the Beatific Vision. Seemingly both God's justice and God's mercy are satisfied.

Most theological hypotheses, I daresay, never become a matter of heartfelt affection or discussion (or even enter the realm of knowledge) of the common faithful-especially in years gone past. Limbo is different however because it addresses a mystery and a suffering-especially in the case of miscarriage-which many of the faithful experience and ask questions about. Further, and very unfortunately, in some catechisms Limbo as a theory was not clearly distinguished from doctrine. Thus many faithful may actually have been mis-educated on this point, and thus even when explained as a hypothesis, these faithful are reluctant to accept Limbo for what it is and for what it is not-or will think that the Church is changing doctrine. If this is the case, it is result of poor catechesis.

Further, for the Church, Limbo had the advantage of encouraging infant Baptism without being draconian and allowing for God's mercy. But while convenient, this doesn't necessarily make it true...

Possible Problems with Limbo

However, I would imagine over the course of time (even before the current era), some have recognized potential problems with the concept of Limbo. For example, the Holy Innocents are honored as saints-attaining salvation by Baptism of Blood-dying in place of our Lord. But the Holy Innocents did not chose their martyrdom-they had not reached the age of reason and could not either affirm or deny Christ. In fact, the particular young boys and infants who were slaughtered seems arbitrary-an accident of time and place of birth. Why does this infant go straight to Heaven and this other one go to Limbo when neither made any conscious choices or decisions in their whole lives? This doesn't poke a hole in Limbo, but does present a new problem to be resolved.

Another (and there may be better arguments I am unaware of) argument against Limbo which has gained popularity more recently is that the existence of Limbo may place limits on God's mercy. Why can't God allow these infants who died before birth or during an abortion, or otherwise un-Baptized enter into Heaven-simply given to God's mercy? (Of course by some mechanism that doesn't violate the doctrines of Baptism and salvation. How can this be? This is a theological problem which again needs study.)

Why some decry the "abolishment" of Limbo and their errors

First, we must acknowledge that Limbo can't be abolished by man if it does indeed exist. It also can't be abolished by man if it doesn't exist. We can only speculate whether it does exist or not.

Further, some of those who are concerned about Limbo treat it on the same level as Catholic doctrine-implying that the doctrine rests on the existance of Limbo. Think about this... For example, one commenter argues (or at least clearly implies) that if you eliminate Limbo, the teachings of the Church on Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism are somehow in jeopardy. This is clearly backwards. Limbo is being raised to the level of dogma. Its very existence as a theory rests on the doctrines of Baptism and Original Sin, not the other way around.

We need to distinguish between those things which help us understand a mystery and the mystery itself. Without Limbo, we may not understand how God resolves the problem of the final destination of aborted babies for example-but it isn't critical to our salvation that we understand it. God takes care of these things for us. These non-doctrinal explanations don't effect doctrine. We really don't understand the Holy Trinity either. We have some nice models which help us visualize it, but they really don't give us any true understanding. Limbo is simply a model to help us explain something we really know little about.

Others are afraid that traditionalists will be (further) alienated from Rome if the ITC goes ahead with the document (with the Pope's approval) that theorizes that infants who die un-Baptized are simply entrusted to God's mercy for salvation. This doesn't give traditionalists very much credit for their knowledge of the Faith or their powers of reasoning. Sure, they may be attached to Limbo also as a popular hypothesis as many of us are. But really, they don't have to give it up. The ITC is not going to make a dogmatic statement saying that the faithful cannot believe in the existence of Limbo anymore. If traditionalists hang their hat on a popular but speculative theory about God's justice and mercy called Limbo and not on the Faith-the doctrines and Tradition of the Church, then they will always be alienated.

It is wise?

Some critics of the ITC say it is not wise and will confuse the faithful if new statements dis-creditting Limbo are issued now (or in this day and age). This may be true in some cases, but let me make some observations and pose a question:

1. Catholics who get their news and understanding of Church teachings from TIME magazine will no doubt be further confused by the ITC statements. However, these Catholics are already confused about a good many things concerning Catholicism, and there is no help for them until they decide they are going to take the Faith seriously and engage Catholicism through Catholic sources.

2. There is more information and more eduction available to the faithful today than in any other time in history. If Catholics want to know about the Faith, there is no better time to learn. Of course as in all eras, some guidance may be necessary. (Dare I open another can of worms?-This is part of what Vatican II was about. The laity must take responsibilty for their own education and spirituality-not in absence of the Church, but in the knowledge that each of us has a vocation to follow with a passion for Christ-not just a passive reception of the sacraments or an assumption that 'the Church will take care of me - I will follow my pastor blindly'...No question the Church has fallen down on catechesis in the past 30-50 years if not longer, in some respects, but the laity have the education and tools to take responsibility themselves.)

3. Who is to say that now or any other time the ITC should not investigate, discuss, give opinion on, publish, and discuss again mysteries that we don't understand? Doctrines are settled. Hypothoses can and should be re-examined periodically in the light of further understandings of other mysteries so that we all can deepen our understanding of our Creator. Theologians must do this. This is their gift to the Church and their vocation. Sure, they shouldn't wantonly discard the old just because innovation is the current fad. But serious reasons or holes in non-doctrinal theories should be investigated-always deferring to the teaching of the Church.

4. Many fear that parents won't Baptize their babies as soon as they should if Limbo is eliminated in favor of God's mercy. Surely, I would think it wise that any communication to the faithful discussing Limbo as being replaced as a theory by this new "Compassion theory" (for want of a better term) should be accompanied by a statement on the urgency of infant Baptism, and that we really don't know for sure how God treats these infants. (However, I will say from the many Baptisms I have witnessed, that people are already delaying Baptism much longer than I think is prudent. Regardless of the current debate, I would urge Rome to address this, because in fact, we don't really know for sure what happens to the un-Baptized infant.)

Pure speculation

I don't have much at stake in the Limbo debate. I think it is a nice way to make it comfortable for us to explain something we don't understand. But I also do understand: that we just don't know!

Now you can stop reading because I am about to enter some pure speculation, some of it probably silly. Just jump ahead to the conclusion below. I don't even know whether I would believe the hypotheses I am about to suggest, but here goes....

- Christ says "unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And Christ gave the specific mission to the Apostles of Baptizing.

These teachings are the basis of the doctrine of Baptism and salvation. And yet we know plenty of exceptions. We have of course Baptism by blood. We have John the Baptist who received the Holy Spirit but not water in the womb and was born without original sin. We have all those righteous figures of the Old Testament who waited in "limbo" (hell or Sheol) for the Messiah and then entered Heaven. None of these were Baptized on earth.

Is the requirement of Baptism part of the New Covenant only? (This has always been my understanding.) Yet we know that God is not limited by time. He is outside of time. Could then those infants who die un-Baptized be treated by God as He treated the Old Testement people. Or could Limbo exist and God sends His angels to Baptize these infants in Limbo so they can enter Heaven? Or could Limbo exist, but not as our vision shows it, but a place where there is some kind of new test given for these souls to chose God? All these solutions entrust these souls to God's mercy-and some include Limbo.

What we know for sure...and Conclusion

What Peter binds on earth is bound in Heaven. But Peter has never bound the existence of Limbo. Baptism as a condition of salvation is bound on earth and in Heaven.

We know also that God's ways are not man's ways. That 1000 years to man is nothing to God. We don't need to understand all things-and we won't understand all the mysteries of God and how He works.

I think some may be reluctant to let go of Limbo because then they realize there is something more that we don't understand (therefore can't control) about God. Here is something we thought we had a handle on in a way that met our expectations and our sense of fairness. Others want Limbo to go because they want a God who doesn't judge and doesn't punish (maybe justifying their own dissent from Church teachings?).

But God is God, and we are not. He doesn't fit our models.

Personally, I have always leaned towards being a Limbo man myself. But I don't hang my hat on it. I usually don't meditate or worry too much about things that are so speculative and don't effect my own journey. (Maybe I should...)

So there it is. I am sure there are many holes to be plugged (or widened) in this overly long post. Go for it. I will try to respond and adjust but my response times will probably be slow for a few days. Lots of doings here.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Two more quick notes as I found a moment...

Interesting article (and online) at crisis Magazine on Mother Angelica and EWTN. My favorite quote from the article which I will use in the future I think is this:

“You know what faith is? Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”

And while I don't usually do these, this one is very short: From Vita Brevis comes this meme: What one thing would you most want Holy Mother Church to give you (and your sisters and brothers in the Faith) for this Christmas?

(Will have to think about this one overnight....)

Been pretty busy around here-today is no exception so blogging will be light. Hopefully I can get back in the saddle tomorrow as I have some things to say...Limbo (yes I promised it several days ago), and other topics.

Since Mr. Luse is not announcing and providing a comment forum every time Jeff posts, someone needs to pick up the ball. Mrs. Curley thought this post on the subject was hilarious.

(And by the way, it is still not too late to get that reader in your family a Requiem Press book for Christmas. If you need it shipped Priority, there are some instructions on how to do this. )

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Didn't go to Mass this morning because of a doctor's appointment and the possibility (depending on doctor outcome) that we may take the van in for a looksee (some weird noises been goin on). So I took Challenger for a walk in the fields and woods behind our property. It was 25 degrees (F) out this morning (colder than forcast). We saw three deer, a doe and two little ones take off through the woods and across some fields at fairly close range. Of course Challenger wanted to catch them-and I, foolishly in my old leather soled shoes tried to keep up-I felt like Challenger was pulling me along the pine needles like I was on ice skates or skis. I love the country...

Weekend doings...

I would like to post about something of paramount importance here this morning (may the promised Limbo opinion?), but my brain is half frozen. The temperature in my office is only 45 degrees (F) this morning. My office has no heat, but on a sunny day, (once the sun is up, that is), the office heats up quite nicely due to the window's Southern exposure. But mornings and overcast days during the winter are tough. The office is small enough that the light bulb (being on) makes a huge difference. (In fact during summer days I make a point to keep the light off as the room will heat up too quickly.) Fortunately last winter my sister sent a fleece sweater, which along with a cap and Boston Red Sox throw blanket (thanks to brother) keeps me operating in the cold quite nicely. However, my fingers do freeze up a bit, making lots of typos inevitable. And sometimes my brain freezes a bit...

So instead of sharing my unlimited wisdom with the masses, I will simply comment on some weekend events and discussions....

Started teaching my boys how to play poker this weekend, (on Sunday no less - boy its great to be Catholic!). I figured they would learn how to play someday, and maybe if I could teach them some lessons now, they may not lose $37 in a half and hour in a nickel limit poker game as their Dad once did years ago...(That's another story, but it only happened once. Since then I became pretty conservative, if not pretyy good also at the game. Of course they will probably have to learn their hard lessons the hard way as most of us did. My Dad taught us how to play poker (and bridge). He never showed me High-Low however, and that was costly.)

Earlier in the morning-before Mass, the boys were feeding the animals and some sort of half playful-half serious dissension arose, resulting in a stick being tossed by one at another. Said stick opened bloody gash in the back of son's head. With 30 minutes to go before leaving for Mass, I was cleaning, patching, etc the wound. Of course head wounds will bleed. We ended up having to leave son and Mrs. Curley home due to said bleeding. It is under control now.

Continuing to move backwards (in time), Saturday night Mrs. Curley and I watched one of the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road" movies which my sister had sent us on video. Road to Rio is the best of the lot-but one we don't have.

Much of Saturday afternoon was spent rejuvanating our fire pit in the back. It had been overgrown and we haven't used it this year. We found an tree stump, never removed, buried in the fire pit. (Don't know how we missed it last yer-oh yes, last year it was more of a fire mound than a firepit) We removed it and placed the logs from this tree around the pit. (Last year we have nothing substantial to sit on). We looking forward to using it now.

Saturday morning, our three oldest sons got up before dawn, completed their animal chores, and made breakfast: scrambled and fried eggs, biscuits, and fried turkey (leftovers from dinner a couple nights ago.) After breakfast Mrs. Curley and I volunteered to do the dishes since they had cooked so well. This was a big mistake. Mrs. Curley and I got into a discussion about Advent and Christmas (and the dangerous overlapping thereof) which dragged the kitchen cleanup out for several hours.

The discussion we had...

We have been trying to think of ways to keep Advent as Advent and to celebrate the Christmas season for the season and not just for one day. We have done a number of things over the years to do this. First we always get our tree December 17th or later. (Some years this has proved a major problem as many places are sold out. Other years it has been a boon as many places overstocked and you can get a great tree at a low, low price. From year to year, you never can predict.) Secondly, we have never made it a priority to open all the gifts under the tree on Christmas day. We have tried to learn Advent songs (the way we learn Christmas carols) and sing them during Advent and then sing Christmas carols starting on Christmas Eve and throughout the Christmas season. Last year we had a Christmas party for friends on the weekend closest to the traditional feast of the Ephiphany (as opposed to all the "Christmas parties" held during Advent) and will do so also this year.

This year we have decided to get our tree a bit earlier but to decorate it with purple ribbons only until the very close to Christmas. We are again, as we did last year, trying to make presents for other in the family instead of buying everything. (We have a "Dollar General" store in town-the only store in fact. The kids think it is the goldmine of all stores).

But there must be something more to move the focus from presents to Christ in more bold ways. We had some thoughts on this. We are going to further our discussion in the next couple days. If some good ideas come out, I will try to share them over the next few days...

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 09, 2005

I should be hawking my own books, but I couldn't resist posting this when it arrived in the mail today. [Agnes Penny is my youngest sister, and yes the picture is of her wonderful family.] The book is available from TAN Books.


I am wondering how many international lottery winning announcements do these people really think I will swallow-in one day? Or how many widows in third world countries are there with undisclosed millions in the bank-just waiting to be transferred (risk-free) into my bank account?

One More: I wonder how RequiemPress' book "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" went from rank 750,000 to 22,000 and now back to 50,000+ on in about 24 hours...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Quick note: The discussion of limbo has been popping up everywhere... Don't worry I have an opinion, and I will post it later today or tomorrow...

Long awaited...

This announcement from Christendom College is truly long-awaited, at least by me. While I have always been a lover of history, Warren Carroll's books are more than just a historical adventure to me; the way he conveys to the reader events, personalities, heroism, injustice, tragedy, victory, etc. is also a spiritual adventure.

Our culture has a fascination with singular events in history when they are spectacular, mysterious, or grotesque. Yet our overall interest, sense and understanding of history is severely deficient. This is a problem, not just because we recommit the mistakes of the past, but also a problem in obtaining our salvation....Here is an excerpt from John Meehan's "Two Towers-the de-Chrisitianization of America and a Plan for Renewal":

...some knowledge of history is necessary for grasping how certain events occurred and why people acted in the way that they did. Furthermore, without knowledge of the past, a person will have little understanding of the present and no real expectation or reasonable hope for what lies ahead. Without an historical perspective, he or she will merely live in the here and now, ignorant of what was and indifferent to what may come.

Americans seem to have neither a sense of history nor a taste for it. The well-known entrepreneur, Henry Ford, summed up this deplorable state when he proclaimed, "History is bunk." Thus, many lay people in this country have little or no knowledge of either salvation history or of secular history, or, more importantly, of the Catholic view that all history converges in the Person of Jesus Christ. This disturbing condition requires a look back at the arrival of religious practices in America by way of European immigrants...."

Back to Warren Carroll-history is not boring or stagnant between his covers. If the large History of Christendom volumes are intimidating, try one of his shorter titles (available here), they are even more engaging.

(Of course if you are in the market for books...don't forget RequiemPress)

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Don't forget the plenary indulgence available today(from

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005- Benedict XVI is offering the faithful a plenary indulgence on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council.

The indulgence was announced in a decree published in Latin on Tuesday, signed by Cardinal James Stafford and Conventual Franciscan Father John Girotti, penitentiary major and regent, respectively, of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

The document establishes that when the Pope renders public homage to Mary Immaculate in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, he "has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity."

... the Holy Father "has kindly granted the gift of plenary indulgence which may be obtained under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, on the forthcoming solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by the faithful if they participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Happy Feast Day and Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not much time today for blogging. Just want to point out that the December issue of crisis Magazine sports an excerpt from Russell Shaw's new book "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" (RequiemPress). Unfortunately the article is not available online....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Book Lists...

TS O'Rama notes that National Review has its Book List (Christmas gift suggestion list, I guess) up. I note sorrowfully that none of RequiemPress' books are on that list. Nonetheless, they make great gifts...

Running the risk of being written about unfavorably for hawking my wares via my blog by J.V. Last, we fearlessly go ahead -(we do need to eat occasionally)- so here are some quick ideas:

"Witnesses to the Holy Mass and other sermons" - for someone who may be spiritually motivated by accounts of martyrdom and exhortations to holiness (or generally enjoys history);

"The Maccabees-Forgotten Heroes of Israel" - for a high schoolers to adult, especially male, who may be afraid to pick up the bible but would love a rip-roaring adventure about God's warriors;

"Shalom-2000" - a simple prayerbook-great stocking stuffer (goes on discount today some time);

"Two Towers-the de-Christianizaiton of America and a Plan for Renewal"- for anyone confused about the 'American Catholic Church' and the 2nd Vatican Council (the book may also provide an insight into Pope Benedict XVI's vision)-go down to this post below and see what one of our readers says about this book);

and... "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church"-for anyone interested in what Vatican II really intended by the "special vocation of the laity" and why the council fathers were compelled to address it. This is also a great book for anyone discerning a vocation (religious or lay). Chapter 7 is one of the best short essays on discerning vocations I have read. An easy read-Russell Shaw has a conversational tone. Mark Shea says about this book, "Russell Shaw shows us how to recover our sanity and live out the awesome vocation of the lay saint that the world so desperately needs.”

Okay, there is my plug. (You can get most of these at or of course, even better, at our site). I am well aware that Bethune Catholic does not have enough readers to sustain Requiem Press by heeding my exhortations to buy our books. And you readers have already done your part-truly keeping us afloat in September-October by your purchases. That being said, I believe the books we publish are good books which should be read, so you can't go wrong giving them as gifts.

By the way, all this talk of gifts is at least somewhat appropriate as this is feast of St. Nicholas-(my oldest son's name saint).

Finally, tonight (one final plug) John Meehan will be signing his newest book, "Two Towers: the de-Christianization of America and a Plan for Renewal" on tonight at 7:00 PM (refreshments are at 6:30, followed by talk and booksigning) in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parish hall (Louden Road, Concord, NH). If you are in that area, stop by.

Thanks for your patience.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thomas More

In the post somewhere below on Jury Duty, the subject of Thomas More and how he approached martyrdom briefly arose. This is a complex issue as there was a widely prevailing opinion at the time that Papal supremcy was an ecclesial law and not of Divine origin. This opinion was bolstered in popularity by the personal immorality of many of the popes in 15th and early 16th century and because of the secular or territorial authority they also wielded. Thomas More was not a theologian and only revised his opinion (to Papal supremacy being Divinely ordained) when he finally researched the topic (possibly he consulted Bishop John Fisher?) when Henry VIII wrote his defense of the Papacy. Recall Thomas More originally warned Henry not to give the Pope so much power - but Thomas More was finally convinced.

However, regarding Thomas More's seemingly tendency for self-preservation instead of embracing martyrdom, Thomas More himself writes on this in his letters from the Tower:

"I have not been a man of such holy living, as I might be bold to offer myself to death, lest God for my presumption might suffer me to fall; therefore I put not myself forward but draw back. Howbeit if God draw me to it Himself, then trust I in His great mercy, that He shall not fail to give me grace and strength."

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Prayer Request...

Further Update: Thanks for the all the prayers. Here is an update to the story. This one mentions Uncle Joe's name. At the time of my first post, not all of his grandchildren had been notified.

I hadn't seen Uncle Joe in some 11 years. Aunt Clara (his wife) is my Mom's oldest sister. Uncle Joe was boxer in college, (you don't hear that often anymore.) Aunt Clara and Uncle Joe gave us our Nativity Set as a wedding present. Most of my kids don't remember ever meeting them, but know them because I mention their names every year when we are setting up the figures.


My aunt was diagnosed with cancer a couple weeks ago after a routine surgery discovered widespread cancer. While the exact diagnosis of the spread of the disease is unclear at this point, it is very serious and may be very well be shortly terminal. She is still in the hospital or rehab center recovering.

Late last night her husband, my uncle, was dropped off at his apartment after spending the day with his wife. The lady in the apartment below left a pot on the stove and fire resulted. Everyone escaped from the building except my uncle who died in the fire.

I have five cousins in this family. They are a close family but I know this unexpected death of their father on top of the upset and concerns of their mom's sickness must be very difficult.

Please remember them and soul of my uncle in your prayers tonight.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen. — Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Update: Link to the fire story here

Friday, December 02, 2005


Just was corresponding with the editor over at Catholic Men's Quarterly (CMQ). You may recall about a year ago I asked if anyone was familiar with CMQ. I am now. They graciously published an article of mine in their Spring/Summer 2005 issue. CMQ would be a great present for the man of the household. (But don't limit it to fathers and husbands. Any adult man will enjoy the topics and articles.)

There are few if any Catholic publications out there directed exclusively towards men. Yet the forces of darkness target men with almost innumerable magazines and with unstoppable eagerness. This alone makes CMQ a particularly worthy endeavor to support. Starting something like CMQ is a challenge and a financial risk-but a risk taken for love of God and the desire to evangelize and support men in their vocation. (Believe me, you don't get rich in Catholic publishing). Without men turning towards God, families won't turn towards God. (Need to blog more about this sometime.)

Men-ask for a subscription to Catholic Men's Quarterly for Christmas. Get a subscription for your brothers and friends. Women-get one for all the men in your life. Great gift-great cause. You really can't go wrong with this one....

Catholics in America or American Catholics?

Here's a reminder (I will post this also on my other blog, but more people read this one, so...): John Meehan will be signing his newest book, "Two Towers: the de-Christianization of America and a Plan for Renewal" on December 6th at 7:00 PM (refreshments are at 6:30, followed by talk and booksigning) in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parish hall (Louden Road, Concord, NH). If you are in that area, stop by.

I know there continues to be mixed feelings about the 2nd Vatican Council. Both John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI played key roles in the council-both felt (as I gather from their writings) it hasn't been implemented properly. John Meehan shares the view that the council was good-but never implemented.

However, even if you don't share that view on the council, and won't be convinced, John Meehan still has something important to say. He spends the first part of the "Two Towers" discussing how the Catholics in America became "American Catholics"-or how Protestant and secular values infiltrated the hearts of Catholics in America including bishops and clergy.

Think about this: Catholics hold the most seats of any demonination in our legislatures in Washington and in most States around the country (except deep South etc.), are prominent (soon to be majority) on the Supreme Court and run major corporations. Yet these Catholics as a group are indistinguishable from their Protestant counterparts in these institutions. I am not talking exclusively about Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion. Even Catholic Republicans/Democrats who claim to be pro-life are Republicans/Democrats (for the most part) before they are Catholic. And certainly I think, if not in words, then by belief and action, most would consider themselves Americans before they are Catholics. How many Catholics in government (and who write political op-ed for that matter) have an understanding of Catholic social teaching, history, or philosophy?

Just look at the discussion that has been continuing over at Caelum et Terra on the salvation of souls in our Enlightenment-based society. If Catholics have such influence, how can we have arrived at this state of affairs? It is interesting to note that throughout history there have been many bad Catholics who held political power. These 'bad' Catholics may have lived immoral lives, but for the most part did not promulgate an immoral society or secularity. (They are many reasons for this-but it is interesting to note the difference here.)

I am not sure how to end this (but must because we are going to First Friday Mass this morning). I guess I will just say, if you are interested, buy "Two Towers" here [it is also available at, or try a Catholic online bookstore, say for example; or physical bookstore near you-if they don't have it, ask.

Some of you who may have read it out there - chime in as regards to this topic...

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I went to Mass this morning. I hadn't been to daily Mass in a week or so. In fact in the last month, my usual daily attendence has been down to a couple times a week. St. Catherine's is 35 miles away and essentially we only have the big Chevy Beauville van in good enough working order to make the trip consistently-of course the Chevy only gets 10-12 miles to the gallon. Even with the price of gas back to pre-Katrina levels, it is expensive. I hate to say that daily Mass isn't in the budget. The Eucharist has truly sustained me in this past 18 months. I am conflicted as I think of St. Isadore who made daily Mass the priority in his life-even at the threat of losing his job in the fields. His faith and devotion made it possible for God to send angels to help him complete his work every day. My faith isn't that strong. God has provided for us every step of the way-sometimes in surprising ways. Yet my practical, human, and weak side makes me budget-cut the Mass instead of having the faith that God will provide for us. In fact He has provided even with my weakness.

(By the way, this isn't a plea for more book sales so I can assist at daily Mass-although don't let me hold you back... It is merely my thoughts as I drove home and gave thanksgiving for the Eucharist this morning.)

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!